HR strategy

The ultimate objective of the KION Group’s HR strategy is to provide the best possible support for the targeted implementation of the KION 2027 strategy. The KION Group’s success in the implementation of KION 2027 is founded on the capabilities and commitment of its employees.

To this end, the KION Group draws on a wide range of measures to ensure that there is always a sufficient number of highly qualified, hard-working employees at all levels of its operations. Attractive working conditions and the opportunities for career progression afforded by working for an international group of companies play an important role in this and provide a solid basis for meeting the manifold challenges presented by our workforce, the various labour markets, demographic change and digitalisation.

The KION Group’s employer brands are very important in this regard. Familiarity with the three main employer brands, Linde Material Handling, STILL and Dematic, remains very high and was further strengthened during the reporting period. In 2019, STILL was recognised as a top employer for the eighth year in succession by the Top Employers Institute, a certification organisation.

Our shared KION Group values

The shared values and leadership principles of the KION Group, which were developed and introduced in 2017 as part of an international bottom-up and top-down process, were in the spotlight once again in 2019 with the objective of further embedding them in the Company. The Operating Units formulated and implemented a host of measures at local level to facilitate and strengthen employees’ identification with the shared values.

Regular communications via the KION intranet played an important role alongside the local measures in 2019. For example, a series of features on employees who embody the values particularly well was expanded, as was a series of regular communications on the 2027 strategy and the values.


The average number of employees (full-time equivalents (FTEs), including trainees and apprentices) in the KION Group was 34,002 in 2019 (2018: 32,524 FTEs).

As at 31 December 2019, the KION Group companies employed 34,604 FTEs, 1,476 more than a year earlier. > TABLE 023

Employees (full-time equivalents)*023


Trucks & Services

Supply Chain Solutions

Corporate Services



Number of employees (full-time equivalents) as at balance sheet date; allocation according to the contractual relationship

Western Europe





Eastern Europe





Middle East and Africa




North America




Central and South America























Western Europe





Eastern Europe




Middle East and Africa




North America




Central and South America













Personnel expenses amounted to €2,292.8 million. The main reason for this increase of 9.2 per cent compared with 2018 was the rise in average headcount for 2019 and changes to collective bargaining agreements. > TABLE 024

Personnel expenses024

in € million




Wages and salaries




Social security contributions




Post-employment benefit costs and other benefits









The KION Group sees itself as a global company with strong intercultural awareness: as at 31 December 2019, people from around 95 different countries were employed across the KION Group.

One of the ways in which the Company promotes international collaboration between employees is the KION expat programme, which gives employees the opportunity to transfer to different countries where the KION Group is represented.

The KION Group is taking various steps to tackle the challenges of demographic change, for example by providing working conditions that are suited to employees’ age-related requirements and organising healthy-living programmes so that it can continue to benefit from older employees’ experience. As at 31 December 2019, 26.7 per cent of employees were over the age of 50 (2018: 26.6 per cent).

The proportion of the KION Group’s total workforce made up of women rose to 16.7 per cent in 2019 compared with 16.2 per cent in 2018. To help increase the proportion of management positions occupied by women, the Executive Board set targets that are published in the corporate governance report. Going forward, the KION Group intends to fill more management positions internationally in order to better fulfil the continually growing requirements placed on the Company. The KION Group offers flexible working-time models that promote a good work-life balance. In addition, various initiatives were launched in 2019 aimed at increasing diversity in the Company, while the Female Mentoring Programme that started in 2018 welcomed a second group of managers.

Development of specialist workers and executives

Further good progress was made in the implementation of the new global process introduced in 2017/2018 for performance management and succession planning. Measures to actively manage the performance of executives were strengthened, for example. Succession planning was also stepped up, resulting in an increase in the number of candidates earmarked for key positions. There was an additional focus on identifying young high-potential candidates who will be put on targeted development programmes. In 2019, the first group of global high-potential candidates successfully completed a new training course to set them on the path to fulfilling an executive function. Some members of this group have already been promoted to a senior management position.

As well as introducing programmes targeted at specific groups, the KION Group remains committed to generally offering its employees career opportunities and flexible, family-friendly working-time models. The Group companies also collaborate closely on areas such as talent management and training & development programmes. This helps to systematically identify and support staff across the Group who have potential, who are high performers or who are experts in key functions.

The Operating Units STILL, Linde MH and Dematic also have academies that run subject-specific and interdisciplinary training courses to develop employees’ skills, particularly in sales and service.

Training and professional development

The companies in the KION Group currently offer training for 23 professions in Germany. Besides providing dual vocational training schemes, KION Group companies offer work placements for students combining vocational training with a degree course in cooperation with various universities. The total number of trainees and apprentices was 672 as at 31 December 2019 (2018: 601).

Sharing in the Company’s success

The KION Group launched the KION Employee Equity Programme (KEEP) in 2014. Initially limited to Germany, the programme was then rolled out to more countries. Around 1,850 employees participated in this share matching programme in 2019, roughly 7 per cent of the total number who are eligible to do so.

Since 2014, the remuneration of the approximately 500 top executives has included a remuneration component running over several years that is based on the long-term success of the Company and is granted annually.

Employee commitment

The KION Group’s products and services destined for its customers are produced by committed employees. That is why all KION companies aim to ensure a high level of employee commitment. Based on the manager survey conducted in 2015 and the action plan derived from it, a package of measures was defined and implemented in 2016 as part of the ‘Lift up’ transformation initiative, in particular to ensure the organisational structure is firmly embedded and to communicate the KION Group’s strategy more widely. A new manager survey was carried out in 2017 which revealed that the action plan derived from the earlier survey had been successfully implemented and the KION Group was therefore able to improve on the results of the 2015 survey.

The third manager survey conducted in autumn 2019 showed further significant improvements. The large number of completed action plans, many the product of team workshops, had a very positive impact again, and this was again confirmed by the comparison with other companies.

Health and safety in the workplace

As an employer, the KION Group is responsible for the health and safety of its employees. The focus is always on avoiding all accidents and work-related illness wherever possible, as well as on maintaining each employee’s work capacity in the long term. In 2017, the KION Group updated its corporate policy setting out its obligations in respect of health, safety and the environment (HSE). These include taking comprehensive precautions to create a safe working environment and ensuring employees know how to avoid risks and accidents.

HSE activities in 2019 continued to centre on an internal audit programme that covers the KION Group’s production facilities as well as sales and service. The programme systematically documents HSE measures and processes and provides specific ideas for how they can be developed further. It also takes into account the requirements of the ongoing certification of all production facilities and sales and service outlets to ISO 14001, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. Last year, 20 central HSE audits were carried out within the KION Group. Further progress was also made in the implementation of comprehensive minimum HSE standards, which are mandatory for all sites. Employees can access these via the intranet.

The KION Safety Championship provides additional motivation for employees to continually engage with HSE matters. Based on regular reporting from the individual units and defined evaluation criteria, a panel of judges awards prizes to those units that have shown special dedication or have suggested the most improvements in an area of HSE.

HSE managers at the KION Group’s production facilities and in its sales and service units have the opportunity to meet and talk with one another at international conferences that take place once a year.

Numerous activities aimed at improving health, such as fitness programmes and advice on nutrition and healthcare, also have a positive effect on health and safety in the Group. The vast majority of employees have access to voluntary health-related activities at their site. The Nilkheim site, for example, launched a new exercise programme developed in partnership with sports physicians that is tailored to specific work situations.

At 2.8 per cent on average, the illness rate for 2019 remained at a satisfactory level (2018: 2.8 per cent). The illness rate is the figure for illness-related or accident-related absences from the workplace. The lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) fell slightly from 10.8 in 2018 to 8.7 last year. The long-term target is for this to remain permanently below 8.

Further information on this, on the other HSE key performance indicators and on the measures initiated and implemented in 2019 will be included in the KION Group’s separate sustainability report, which will be published in April 2020 on the KION GROUP AG website.